retirement accounts

Retirement Planning Bucket List and The China Hustle

With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday shopping season is officially upon us. Are you ready??

But before you start spending that money, we have a radio show to do.

First up this week was Jeff from Seattle. Jeff has three of four IRAs out there and is wondering how to make things a bit easier and simplify his life as he prepares to retire.

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Next was John from Virginia with the following question: “What would the final item or two be on your retirement planning bucket list if you were in my situation?”

LOVE IT!

Movies go hand in hand with Thanksgiving, so that’s what we’re doing in hour two.

The documentary film The China Hustle begins amid the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, when we meet protagonist Dan David and a band of Wall Street outsiders. These detective-like investors operate on the fringes of the financial world, scouring global markets for money making opportunities. With the U.S. economy and markets in a tailspin, they turn to China, where there is what seems like a modern day gold rush. Chinese stock market indexes are doubling every year and the potential seems endless.

There’s one problem, though: U.S. investors can’t participate because they are barred from investing directly in Chinese markets. But this is America, and people always find a way. A few Wall Street operators create a novel solution by bringing hundreds of promising Chinese companies directly to U.S. stock markets. All of the sudden, US investors can get in on the Chinese miracle, without leaving the comforting confines of the NYSE and the NASDAQ.

It all seems to be going well, until detectives discover that most of the companies they’re investing in are frauds, producing phony balance sheets, claiming sham inventory levels and celebrating non-existent profits. The investors flip their strategy on its head and begin to master the art of short selling - essentially, betting that a company will fail.

With the help of a team of Chinese researchers who risk their freedom to uncover the truth behind these fake companies, the investors discover the frauds and bet against them in the market.

There are no good guys in this story. But there are a few people who are sick of a financial system built on lies. The China Hustle follows their story through Wall Street, China and your retirement savings to uncover the biggest heist you’ve never heard of, and to challenge all of us to wake up and demand accountability and transparency in our markets before it’s too late.

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Celebrating Thanksgiving with NerdWallet

When I think of Thanksgiving there’s a few things that immediately come to mind. Stuffing my face with endless amounts of food. Maybe drinking copious amounts of wine. Putting on a good movie just as the food coma is about to set in. And of course, the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

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I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of holiday shopping. That said, I realize it’s a necessary evil. So if I’m going to do it, I want to be well informed.

That’s where today’s guest, Kimberly Palmer, comes into the picture. Kimberly writes about credit cards and personal finance for NerdWallet, the site that helps people make and manage financial decisions by comparing products available from various banks, insurance companies, etc.

If you’re going to splurge for the holidays, you need to have a plan and a budget in place. There are so many apps out there to help you save some serious money, as well as Honey, a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout with a single click.

We also touched on a variety of other topics, including:

  • Salary negotiation tips

  • Millennials saving for retirement

  • Side hustles

  • Kids and finances

If you like what you heard, you can check out more from Kimberly. She has written three books about money: "Smart Mom, Rich Mom," "The Economy of You" and “Generation Earn.”

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Retirement Plan

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Who doesn't want to retire earlier than expected? Unfortunately, the reality is that most of us can't. Is our latest bonus caller Mark one of the lucky ones? Press play to find out!

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Retirement Planning and Talking College with Beth Kobliner

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We kicked things off on the latest radio show with Barbara from New York. Barbara is in the interesting position of having two financial advisors currently looking over her assets. So she’s getting different opinions from two well informed advisors. Which one should she go with? Do you really think it’s going to be that easy! Tune in to hear the outcome.

October marked the beginning of the college financial aid application season. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, became available for the 2018-2019 school year on October 1.

Having the college talk with your kids can certainly be a tricky and complicated situation. To help you guys out, we’re joined by bestselling author and financial literacy advocate, Beth Kobliner.

Beth’s latest project, We Need To Talk College, focuses on choosing the right college and figuring out how to pay for it.

The project focuses on four main areas:

  • Starting the conversation: Here’s where the journey begins. Starting to talk about your worries and excitement when your kid is in 9th grade gives your family time to prepare for big changes ahead. So gather around the kitchen table, or cozy up on the couch, and start talking.

  • Shopping for schools: It can be overwhelming—trying to separate higher ed hype from the truth, navigating the application process, and figuring out what your kid will actually get for all that money. Here’s how to become a super smart college shopper and create a shortlist of schools that fit your kid’s needs and your budget.

  • Paying for college: College costs have soared—but a degree is more valuable than ever. Here you’ll find all the resources you need to understand financial aid, talk to your kid about the money side of higher ed, and keep track of your progress toward paying for college.

  • Making the final choice: You’ve come a long way from that first college conversation. Now that the acceptance and award letters are in, it’s time for you and your kid to make a final decision. It can feel like a leap of faith, but never fear: Here’s where you learn how to choose a college that checks all the boxes, without losing your mind.

When you complete these four steps, it’s time to celebrate, because you did it! You have a kid on the way to college!

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"Jill on Money" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.

State of the Economy with Diane Swonk

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You guys know I’m a sucker for chatting with a rockstar economist, especially when it’s a woman! We did it earlier this year with Linda Yueh, and this week we’re doing it again with Diane Swonk.

Diane is one of the most respected macroeconomists, who maintains a unique perspective on the inner workings of Main Street as well as Wall Street. She is an expert on the economics of the labor market, monetary policy and structural changes that are distinct from economic cycles.

All of this came in handy as we chatted about global and domestic economic conditions, touching on a variety of topics such as:

  • Will there be more interest rate hikes?

  • Are we on the verge of another recession?

  • What is the biggest threat facing the global economy?

With a network that includes economists, industry leaders and geopolitical experts, Diane advises policy makers at all levels of government, including central bankers.

For her outstanding contributions in the field of economics, Diane has been named a Fellow of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE). She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the Sitting Committee to the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and advises the economics department at the University of Michigan.

She has testified before Congress to improve the quality of economic data and on the causes and consequences of income inequalities.

If you’re a Twitter user, Diane is definitely one to follow.“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

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When to Use Bonds

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You're saving and saving and saving for retirement. Most of it is in stocks...but what about bonds? Do you need them and what's the best way to start mixing them in? That's what we chatted about with Dee from Seattle on the latest bonus call.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Have a money question? Email us here or call 855-411-JILL.

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What to Do with Old 401(k)

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Unless you're only going to work for one employer, which is exceedingly unlikely, chances are you're going to have some old retirement plans out there. What should you do with them? Leave where they are? Roll into the new plan? Consolidate? That's the question from Lisa in New Jersey on the latest bonus call.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Have a money question? Email us here or call 855-411-JILL.

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Annuities, Medicare and Social Security

This week we’re starting things off with Annamarie in Pennsylvania, who at 63, is planning on retiring in the next few years. She was recently approached by her financial advisor about placing her current 401(k) into an annuity. Good idea or bad?

Next up was Susan from Tennessee who is trying to navigate things after the unexpected passing of her sister. Named as executor of the will, Susan understandably has a lot of questions.

In hour two we brought back Steve Vernon, an old pal of mine from my CBS MoneyWatch days.

Steve joined us to talk about Medicare open enrollment as well as answer some of your Social Security questions.

With Medicare's open enrollment period running through December 7, you have a golden opportunity to make changes that might better serve you in the years to come.  

Many people assume that because Medicare is called "medical insurance," it's similar to their employer's medical insurance that protected them during their working years. But that's wrong.

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Employer-sponsored health care plans typically have one set of deductibles and copayments, and you only need to pay one premium to obtain comprehensive coverage. Not so with Medicare – it's much more complicated than that. Traditional Medicare has three different parts that cover hospital, outpatient, and prescription drugs – called Parts A, B, and D, respectively. Each part has its own set of premiums, deductibles and copayments. 

As a result of having these three different parts, many retirees mistakenly assume hat Medicare provides all the coverage they need. Or they think they're healthy and won't need additional insurance coverage beyond Medicare. Then they're shocked when they experience their first significant medical claim and are forced to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. 

You can guard against these surprises by purchasing either a Medicare Supplement Plan (aka Medigap) or Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans are both designed to reduce Medicare's significant gaps. By one estimate, millions of retirees make the mistake of not purchasing such a plan to help close Medicare's gaps. 

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The Fifth Risk with Michael Lewis

If you’re a regular listener, you know this show is not political in nature. We leave that stuff to the so-called experts.

But since next Tuesday is Election Day, we thought we’d talk a little politics with rockstar author and repeat guest, Michael Lewis.

A prolific writer, it’s highly likely that you’ve probably picked up at least one of his books, including Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short or Flash Boys.

In this interview, we discuss his latest work, The Fifth Risk, which focuses on the consequences we may face if some of the people given control over the government have no idea how it works.  

As you turn the pages, you’ll be taken into various departments of the government that at times resemble a rudderless ship.

In Agriculture, the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.

Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for people who wish to shrink the world to a worldview.

Thankfully, Michael Lewis also finds the heroes, those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Have a money question? Email us here or call 855-411-JILL.

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FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early)

There’s a FIRE spreading in the world of personal finance. FIRE is the acronym that stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early.” It’s popular with Millennials (which Pew Research now defines as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, or ages 22 to 37 in 2018) who want to escape soul-sucking jobs that don’t reflect their values. The movement has added to the chorus of naysayers, who complain about the generation’s work ethic, but I believe that FIRE followers are doing what they should be doing: taking control of their financial lives.